Tow companies can’t take your car without 24-hours notice, according to new law

A pretty full parking lot at the University of Denver. Sept. 28, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
A pretty full parking lot at the University of Denver, Sept. 28, 2021.

Update: This law went into effect August 9, 2022.

Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law on Tuesday that makes it harder for towing companies to remove cars from apartment complexes, mobile home parks and other residential communities. 

House Bill 22-1314 clarifies and strengthens the state’s existing requirements that companies give certain notifications prior to towing a vehicle on private property. Sponsors say the changes will help protect residents from the financial fallout of an unexpected tow due to minor parking offenses. 

Previous laws only required towers to notify law enforcement 30 minutes after towing a vehicle from a private property, sharing the storage location and description of the vehicle. 

The new policy now forces companies to notify a vehicle’s owner 24 hours before removing a vehicle, and towers must send law enforcement the location they plan to move the car to before removing it, rather than waiting until it’s already been impounded.

Other new requirements for towing companies and their storage facilities include the following: 

  • Prominently display maximum allowable fees that may be charged for towing services on their website and place of business 
  • Provide lighting and security at vehicle storage lots
  • Not charge for vehicle storage prior to notifying vehicle owners about the location their car is towed to 
  • Photograph a vehicle before towing to document its condition
  • Allow owners to retrieve items from inside a towed vehicle
  • Allow owners to retrieve vehicles without payment if they sign a form affirming that they’ll owe the towing company
  • Release a vehicle that has been hooked up to a truck – but not yet towed –  if approached by an owner
  • Not tow vehicle solely for expired registration tags
  • Pay vehicle owners if the sum of proceeds from selling a towed vehicle are greater than the fees owed to the towing company

The bill also dedicates $100,000 to create a new office of tow hearings within the Public Utilities Commission. If companies fail to follow the new rules, vehicle owners can file complaints with the office and have their towing fees waived.